Monday, May 02, 2011

Film Review: Thor

.:Film Review: Thor:.

I wasn't able to shoot myself mugging in front of the poster, so this Marvel comics variant cover should suffice.

Buy Odin's beer! It's great!

Just in case, let's just say: SPOILERS AHEAD!

I generally like comic book movies from Marvel s'long as they're not involved with Daredevil. I mean, really. I found Hulk decent except for the Gamma Dogs, I was cool with X-3 and Spider-Man 3, and I totally adored Howard the Duck. Well, not really. And I didn't like both Fantastic Four films, either, so I don't even know the point of this opening paragraph anymore.

But let me preface all of this by telling you that I think Thor is one of the most wittily written comic films I've had the pleasure of watching. Everyone says Iron Man or The Dark Knight was the pinnacle of comic films, or maybe even Spider-Man 2. They're great movies, but there's something about the snappy writing of Thor that just makes it stand out, even if their character arcs were severely truncated because of time constraints.

If you know your basic Norse mythology, then you know the story here: Thor is the Norse god of thunder, and in this film, he is the heir to the throne of the Allfather, Odin. His brother, Loki, the god of mischief, covets the throne, and attempts to keep Thor from ascending to the throne. All the while, Loki doesn't know that his true heritage is not as the son of Odin, but as the son of the king of the Frost Giants, the bitter enemies of the Asgardians.

As Thor's fall from grace lands him powerless in Midgard, he tries to understand the ways of the people around him, and this part, for me, was the best part of the film, as Thor plays the fish out of water trope to a tee, and it works for him very well. Chris Hemsworth's chemistry with Natalie Portman, who was playing Jane Foster, really shone, and this lent itself to a great onscreen pairing with some palpable romantic tension thrown in for good measure.

With Thor out of the way and Odin suddenly falling ill, Loki ascends to the throne, but Thor's friends, Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, suspect that Loki schemed and plotted to make this happen. Indeed, it seemed apparent that Loki would finally claim his birthright as a Frost Giant when he promised to deliver Odin on his deathbed for the giants to slay.

And yeah, climactic battle happens, day is saved, yadda yadda. Thing is, that wasn't what made the movie work, even if the action itself was pretty good.

Thor's strength as a film lies in the dialogue, which was witty, snappy, funny, and overall a joy to watch. Despite the fact that Thor went from self-important, entitled douchebag to a bleeding heart goody two-shoes in the theatrical version of a snap, the ride was still very entertaining, and the scripting was very smart. Volstagg and his killer line was definitely a show stealer, but for a movie that didn't rely on its action as much as you expected it to, it was actually all the better for it. From interacting with the SHIELD agents to Thor looking for a horse in a pet shop, it was entertainment non-stop, only broken up by the predictable smashy-smashy stuff.

Which is kind of weird, when you think about it. Of all films in the Marvel roster, Thor didn't seem like the one to be the most introspective of them all, and work just as well for it. Hulk tried it. While it worked for me, majority of the people who watched it didn't agree with me at all. Thor, on the other hand, certainly won me over, even if it felt like another crazy shill to make the Avengers happen, which they are clearly setting up for. Too bad DC wouldn't try the same thing, though.

That being said, with a visually stunning film and well-written dialogue, Thor is a film you wouldn't mind paying to see at all.

Fun Evaluation: A+
Critical Evaluation: B+/A-

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